Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Sumo and Stampede Wrestling

This is actually a vintage photograph a lady gave me while I was a missionary in Tucson, AZ of all places. I'm the only one who has it.

A lot of people have no idea (well, unless you've seen my facebook postings, etc) that I am a SERIOUS Sumo Wrestling fan. Yes, I know - yet another quirk revealed. So, about a year and a half ago, I created this Sumo Fan Club on facebook, and now there's 168 people in it from all over the world - some of whom are ACTUAL sumo wrestlers. In fact, I just became friends with a Norwegian sumo wrestler. Apparently sumo is big in Europe. (no pun intended) Lots of people have no idea really how sumo works, and they just think it's a bunch of big guys pushing each other out of a ring. Well, let me tell you - sumo is an art!! The best thing for me - is watching the wrestlers get ready for the match. The preparation for a match often takes a lot longer than the actual match (which could really last seconds). Truly - the match is won or lost in the preparation. Also, there's so much tradition involved - that it's really interesting to me to watch traditions carried on that have existed in the sport for hundreds of years. (Sumo is a relatively young sport in Japan) For instance the tossing of salt in the ring for purification - a shinto religious contribution. Professional Sumo Wrestlers - only found in Japan are required to live in traditional Heya (or training stables) where they are to follow strict Sumo traditions.

My favorite Sumo Wrestler is a Mongolian man who has been given the Japanese Sumo name of Asashoryu. He's a relatively young man - 27. Asashoryu is the first Mongolian to reach the rank of Yokozuna (the highest rank in Sumo) He is the 68th Yokozuna in the history of Sumo practiced in Japan. Asashoryu was born September 27th, 1980 as Dolgorsurengiin Dagvadorj in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia. What's really special about Asashoryu is that he's relatively small for a Sumo Wrestler, but he has great power. He is 6 feet tall, and weighs 330 lbs. Yes, this is relatively small for most Sumo Wrestlers. There was some controversy in Asashoryu's career recently because of a football match he played in while he was supposed to be off of Sumo for an injury. As I said before - Sumo is an old sport with lots of traditions, and he unfortunately broke them. This was sad, but at the same time, he is a young guy, and living away from his homeland. I feel that there should be some leniency for him. Anyway, he's still the best in my books. He's broken records over and over again. This you can read about in his wikipedia profile.

Anyway, just thought I'd educate you all a little about Sumo, as it's something special, and worth getting to know a bit more about. To get to know more about the history of the game, and origins, go here...

Here is the official Sumo Federation site.

All this talk about Sumo, has also rekindled my fondness for old fashioned North American wrestling as well. The thing about this though - is - Wrestling is nothing like how it used to be. Nowadays, it's just a sideshow carnival. It's not about the wrestling anymore, and the drama - is just wrong. The drama used to be fantastic. Who can forget Wrestlemania III - sold out crowd Hulk and Andre - yes, Andre was set to lose, but really - he was passing on the torch. He knew he was living on borrowed time. Awww, Andre. Gentle Giant. Well, he didn't live gently, but he had a gentle heart. In Calgary - we were lucky - we had Ed Whalen and Stampede Wrestling. It was local, and it was good. We had all the big names come right here to our little ring. Mostly because of the Hart family. They were all born and raised right here in Calgary. I've seen their house on the side of Signal Hill many times - and it's been there a lot longer than signal hill was ever signal hill. So, I found these old videos of Stampede Wrestling on You Tube, and some of it really brought a tear to my eye. Especially hearing Ed's voice. Watching wrestling also reminds me of my Jamaican Grandpa who died - Speedy. There's lot of good memories associated with watching wrestling. So, in honor of those old days of Stampede Wrestling, here are some classics to watch...

This one's a tribute to old episodes of Stampede Wrestling - some awesome footage. Ignore the cheezy bit in the middle with the music.

Here, here..... This is a classic. Battle Royal in '79 Fight to the last man with Andre the Giant. (my favorite - who doesn't love Andre?) At some points he's fighting off 3 or 4 guys at a time.

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